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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 6, Issue 12: March 22, 2004

  1. Assessing the Iraq War Rationale
  2. Exporting U.S. Regulations
  3. Public Turning Deaf Ear to Feminist Cries of Wolf

1) Assessing the Iraq War Rationale

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Condoleezaa Rice made 237 specific misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 125 public appearances preceding the Iraq war -- including 11 misleading statements made by Bush in a speech in Cincinnati three days prior to the congressional vote on the Iraqi war resolution -- according to a study published last week by the House Committee on Government Reform (Minority Office), commissioned by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).

These statements were not claims proven to be wrong or misleading only after they were made; they were "misleading at the time they were made," the report states. And although most of the misstatements were failures to convey the uncertainties expressed in U.S. intelligence reports, ten were simply false.

The discrepancy between the Bush administration's claims and the reality is so great that "one naturally suspects that the invasion of Iraq was never intended to serve the announced purposes, that the stated rationale was pure pretext all along," writes Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute, in an op-ed marking the one-year anniversary of the start of the war.

"Indeed, if the pure-pretext explanation is not valid, then one is hard pressed to understand how the government, with its vast multi-billion-dollar intelligence apparatus, managed to get so many things wrong while isolated individuals with no privileged access to classified or inside information, such as I, managed to get them right all along."

Rather than face its failures squarely, the White House has shifted its war rationale to emphasize that the world now has one less dictator. Meanwhile, the White House is favoring a 9/11-investigation panel (appointed by the administration) whose report won't be published until after the November election.

"If John Q. Public thinks that any of this official investigatory activity will provide him with reliable information about how the government actually works, or even about how it intends to work, he is sacrificing a good opportunity to go fishing. It's all for show," writes Higgs.

"If you think I’m off base, then take the following test. Check the cast of characters a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now. See who’s prospered and who hasn’t. See whose head has rolled (don’t expect many) for misfeasance or malfeasance in public office. Check whether many politicians who came into office without great wealth somehow left office filthy rich. Check on their friends and relatives, too. Notice whose kids have been killed or wounded by roadside [bombs] in whatever Third World hellhole the United States has invaded and occupied most recently (don't expect to find the scions of any government bigwigs among those blown to smithereens or driven mad by combat stress).

"Check whether the United States has managed to bring into being a glorious worldwide regime of democracy, peace, and prosperity and whether the world‘s peoples are hailing Uncle Sam with hosannas and strewing his global pathways with flowers in gratitude for his beneficent intervention (just don’t hold your breath waiting for this oft-promised outcome)."

See "Taking Stock One Year after the U.S. Invasion of Iraq," by Robert Higgs (3/13/04)

Also see:

"Iraq on the Record: The Bush Administration's Public Statements on Iraq" (House Committee on Government Reform -- Minority Staff, 3/16/2004)

"The Oval Office Liars' Club," by Robert Higgs (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 11/24/02)

Center on Peace & Liberty

OnPower.org -- U. S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East

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2) Exporting U.S. Regulations

Critics of "globalization" often deride America's success in exporting material and cultural products. Other countries, they say, shouldn't have to worry losing their culture to KFC and MTV. Yet while they tirelessly harp on the global penetration of American exports, the anti-globalizationists overlook one American "export" that often does real harm -- other countries' adoption of U.S.-style regulations.

Take Canada, for example. "In most fields, we have been historically freer in Canada than they in 'the land of the free,'" writes Pierre Lemieux, professor of economics at the University of Quebec and research fellow at the Independent Institute. "The dirty part of the little secret is that the federal government, and sometimes the provincial governments, have been trying hard to create an equal playing field of tyranny."

The list of Canadian regulations modeled after those in the United States is extensive, Lemieux reports in a new op-ed for the FINANCIAL POST. Canadians adopted their federal income tax requirement in 1917, four years after the U.S. amended its constitution to require the federal income tax. Similarly, Canadian officials took after the United States when they created a central bank, "New Deal"-type programs, and money laundering regulations, to name but a few Canadian copycats. Now it looks like Canada will follow the United States in criminalizing insider trading.

"There are glorious exceptions where Americans remain freer, but it is seldom completely black and white. Taxes are lower in the U.S. than in Canada, but this is only since the 1960s. Self-defence and free speech have resisted better in the U.S., but these traditional liberties have also been under attack. Private health insurance is not prohibited in the U.S., but 40% of health expenditures come from the taxpayer (compared to 70% in Canada), and the industry is tightly regulated," writes Lemieux.

Fortunately, there are signs of an intellectual counter-revolution on the horizon: a few notable Canadian intellectuals are starting to uncover facts about Canada's heritage of liberty, according to Lemieux. If this is a trend, it is one that Americans would do well to import.

See "Canada: The Land of the Free," by Pierre Lemieux (FINANICAL POST, 3/19/04)

Also see:

RECLAIMING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and Their Legacy, by William J. Watkins, Jr.

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3) Public Turning Deaf Ear to Feminist Cries of Wolf

Like the boy who cried wolf, feminists who claim they are victims of male sexual harassment are less likely to be assumed by the press and the public to be telling the truth than before, according to Wendy McElroy, research fellow at the Independent Institute and editor of LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century.

Naomi Wolf's recent claim, made in NEW YORK MAGAZINE, about unwanted advances from a well-known male professor, allegedly made twenty years ago, has been questioned publicly in THE NEW STATESMAN, and elsewhere, as a publicity stunt. McElroy's point is not that the allegation is false -- it may well be true -- but that such claims increasingly are met with public skepticism.

"The claim of victimhood is no longer enough to make listeners suspend their critical faculties, even when made by a noted feminist. THE NEW STATESMAN is simply reflecting that change," writes McElroy.

Feminist author Daphne Patai is indicative of the change in our cultural assumptions, writes McElroy. "In her book HETEROPHOBIA, Patai describes the savagery of sexual misconduct policies by which the accused has no due process or presumption of innocence but must prove his non-guilt to committees with the power to run his life.

"It is now time to start talking about the ignored victims, about the wrongfully accused men," McElroy continues. "It is not enough to dismiss false accusers; restitution should be provided to those they have harmed.

"What form of restitution? The possibilities range from an official apology to reinstatement and libel charges against the false accuser."

See "Feminist Confession Reveals Cultural Shift," by Wendy McElroy (3/17/04)

Also see, LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century, by Wendy McElroy

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